Getting to Fitzroy Island is a breeze with a fast 45-minute ferry from Cairns Reef Terminal. But, with so many ferries & day trips, booking can be overwhelming.
Looking for the best way to get to Fitzroy Island from Cairns, and back? I have you covered.
Over the past few years, I’ve visited Fitzroy Island more times than I can count. I’ve gotten here by sailing myself and by jumping on several different fast ferries and adventure day trips from Cairns.
Lately, I’ve noticed more and more day trips and ferries popping up on booking sites, which can make finding the best deal a bit tricky, especially if it’s your first time in Far North Queensland.
That’s why I’ve formulated this travel guide, breaking down the ferry schedule, introducing the best day trips from Cairns, filling you in on the current cheapest way to get to Fitzroy Island, and helping you get a good deal on ferry tickets.
- How to Get to Fitzroy Island With the Cheapest Ferry Tickets
- Where is Fitzroy Island
- Comparing Ferries, Pricing, & Day Trip Schedules
- Staying the Night at Fitzroy Island
- Taking Your Own Boat
- Parking Your Car in Cairns City Before the Ferry
- How To Get Around on Fitzroy Island
- Fun Things to Do at Fitzroy Island
- FAQ About Transport to Fitzroy Island
- More Cairns Travel & Adventure Guides
By Olly Gaspar, traveler, travel blogger & photographer for 5+ years with 600+ published travel guides. I visit every place I write about & share real tips from what I learn.
Where is Fitzroy Island
Fitzroy Island lies just 29 kilometers off the coast of Cairns in Far North Queensland, Australia. This is much closer to the mainland compared to Green Island and makes for one of the best and most accessible reef snorkelling or scuba diving trips from Cairns.
Fitzroy is nestled within the Coral Sea and is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park with a yellow zoning designation (conservation park). You'll find a healthy fringing reef along its coast, which is home to many green sea turtles and tropical fish.
Additionally, the island has its own National Park Designation, with 94% of its 334 hectares covered in untouched tropical rainforest. It's also one of the highest, with the Fitzroy Summit reaching 269 meters above sea level, which means you can see the island from the Cairns mainland (Northern Beaches).
This also it's one of the best Cairns islands for hiking and exploring!
How to Get to Fitzroy Island With the Cheapest Ferry Tickets
Currently, the best and cheapest way to get to Fitzroy Island is to book a ferry with Fitzroy Island Adventures on GetYourGuide Best Price
At $89 per person for the ferry-transfer-only option, this is currently the cheapest Fitzroy ferry deal available online, compared to $95 pp. if you book directly. In my experience, GetYourGuide also has a more relaxed stance on cancellation fees in case of bad weather.
This fast catamaran transfer departs daily from the Marlin Marina (Cairns Marina) at Pier Point Rd in Cairns at 8:30 am. This price is for return tickets, allowing you 7 hours to explore Fitzroy Island before getting back to Cairns at around 5 pm.
I'll continue to update this blog post as soon as new ticket deals and schedules come out to make sure I help you find the best rate. Below I'll also include other ferry options with the current pricings.
How Long Does it Take to Get to Fitzroy Island from Cairns?
The journey to Fitzroy Island from Cairns is very swift, taking just 45 minutes on average by fast-boat catamaran. This quick transit time makes this an ideal tropical island for both day-trippers and those planning a longer stay at the local Fitzroy Island Resort.
When choosing ferries for getting to Fitzroy, it's useful to know that they all take roughly the same amount of time. Therefore, I recommend choosing the best boat based on price, or inclusions if you're opting for a day trip tour with snorkeling gear, etc. (more info below).
Comparing Ferries, Pricing, & Day Trip Schedules
There are currently three ferry companies running daily return transfers from Cairns. These all take 45 minutes and are all fast catamaran-type boats.
As I mentioned above, the cheapest ferry currently is Fitzroy Island Adventure, but only if you book with the GetYourGuide discount deal (save $6 per person).
Below I'll compare the current prices and schedules.
|Schedule from Cairns
|Schedule from Fitzroy
|Sunlover Reef Cruises
|Fitzroy Island Adventures
|8:00am, 11:00am*, 1:30pm
|9:30 am, 12:15 pm*, 5:00 pm
Note that these prices are for the ferry transfer only. Each company offers additional "day trip" options with inclusions like lunch, snorkel gear rental, SUPs, kayaks, and more.
However, the best value in my opinion is to book the ferry only, and then renting gear from the resort dive shop, just up from the beach.
Tip: Book a Half-Day Trip
Only got time to visit the island for a few hours?
Currently, there's a great deal you can snag with BackpackerDeals, offering cheaper half-day return ferry tickets. Using code OLLY5 makes this the cheapest way to get to Fitzroy at the moment.
Staying the Night at Fitzroy Island
Similarly to Green Island, Fitzroy has its very own tropical resort. This is nestled in the main beach area beside the calm waters of Welcome Bay and offers several beach bungalows, restaurants, and even a bar.
This is a great way to better explore than island than a single full day tour.
I had the privilege of staying here and while they've been getting a bit of a bad wrap lately on reviews I still think it's one of the best places to stay in Cairns, especially if you are looking for accommodation right in front of the beach and reef.
The Fitzroy Island Resort also offers camping facilities beside the resort. This costs $39 per tent per night for up to 4 people.
Alternatively, you can also rent a tent from them for $97 per night for 4 people but you'll have to pay a $200 bond as well.
Taking Your Own Boat
My family lives in Cairns and I usually head back there every year around Christmas to see them. Over the years, we've made our way over to Fitzroy Island many times on our own boat that we built in our backyard when I was young.
Location: Latitude: 16.93° S, Longitude: 145.986° E
This is a great option if you want to get to Fitzroy without booking a day trip or ferry. There are several blue public moorings available at Welcome Bay with green tags (Monohull 20 metres or Cat 18 metres) and yellow tags (Monohull 10 metres or Cat 9 metres).
This means you typically don't have to pay the $39 to use the private moorings that the resort owns to leave your own boat overnight.
Parking Your Car in Cairns City Before the Ferry
The best option for parking your car for a day trip is at the large designated car park beside the Cairns Reef Fleet Terminal at the end of Pier Point Road. This is just a 2-minute walk from the ferry.
This costs $2.00 per hour. Alternatively, if you get there early, the center parking bay of all streets in Cairns is completely free to park. This is what I usually look for first.
Alternatively, if you're going to stay a night or two at the resort, I recommend parking at the Pier underground car park accessible between 6.00 am and 10.00 pm. This usually costs $2.00 per hour but there are special rates for people heading out to the reef or for multiple days at Fitzroy.
My advice is to book this in advance.
How To Get Around on Fitzroy Island
There are no roads or transport available on the island. To get around to the different beaches and viewpoints, you'll have to walk.
The good news is that most of Fitzroy Island's must-see attractions and activities are easily accessible on foot from Welcome Bay.
Once you arrive, you'll see an island map that illustrates the network of the island's limited walking roads.
Fun Things to Do at Fitzroy Island
Looking for some inspiration or ideas for what to do when you arrive?
Fitzroy is one of my favorite islands off Cairns because it presents some of the best adventure opportunities!
- Hike to Fitzroy Summit: The 3 km return summit track from Welcome Bay leads to an epic viewing platform at the highest point of the island. I recommend heading up here for sunset or sunrise for spectacular views of the Cairns mainland and Fitzroy beaches below.
- Visit Nudey Beach: Nudey Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Australia. You'll find it at the end of a short rainforest walking track leading from Welcome Bay.
- Snorkel at Welcome Bay: The main beach near the Fitzroy Island Wharf is one of the best snorkeling spots on the island. The best corals are on the northern end of the beach and around Shark Rock. For the best chance of spotting turtles, snorkel out directly from Foxy's Bar.
- Turtle Rehabilitation Center: The island is home to the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre, a non-profit organisation that helps green sea turtles get back to health after injury and sickness. You can find it right next to the resort.
- Water activities: Rent snorkelling gear, SUPs, kayaks, and more from the resort and explore Welcome Bay and even out to Little Fitzroy Island on a calm day. There are also glass bottom boat tours available from the resort and via the booking sites I've listed above.
For more ideas and inspiration for the best things to do, read my Fitzroy Island Travel Guide.
FAQ About Transport to Fitzroy Island
How long is the ferry ride to Fitzroy Island?
The ferry ride from Cairns to Fitzroy Island typically takes about 45 minutes but can vary depending on the weather and tides.
Are there different types of ferry tickets?
Yes, you can choose between one-way, half-day, and full-day return tickets. Prices vary for adults and children.
Do I need to pre-book the ferry?
While it's not essential, I highly recommend booking the Fitzroy Island ferry in advance to secure a spot and get the best deal. Note that that the current GetYourGuide discount for cheaper ferry prices is only available online.
Can I take a car to Fitzroy Island?
No, there are no cars on Fitzroy Island besides a small van that the resort uses. You can only visit Fitzroy on foot.
Is Fitzroy worth the trip?
If you're visiting Cairns and want to snorkel above healthy coral reefs, see marine life like green sea turtles, experience one of Australia's most beautiful beaches (Nudey Beacy) and explore a unique island rainforest ecosystem, then the trip is definitely worth it!
Where do you fly into to get to Fitzroy?
The closest airport is Cairns International Airport, which is about 20 minutes from the ferry terminal.
When's the best time to visit the island?
The best time to explore the Great Barrier Reef Islands near Cairns is in the dry season between May and October. During this time the weather is usually calm, warm, and doesn't see much rain. The wet season on the other hand can get very hot, rainy, and has higher chances of dangerous marine stingers. That said, I've visited Fitzroy all throughout they year and it just comes down to the weather on the day!
More Cairns Travel & Adventure Guides
I hope that you've found this quick guide to getting to Fitzroy Island from Cairns useful. If you're looking for more great island day trips, I highly recommend checking out the Frankland Islands Hidden Gem with some of the best snorkelling that rivals the outer reef.
Planning a trip to Cairns? Read my detailed guides below.
- 60+ Things to do in Cairns - my ultimate Cairns and FNQ travel resource covering the best activities, hidden gems, and unmissable experiences.
- Cairns Hiking Guide - a huge list of epic rainforest, waterfall, and lookout hikes in Cairns.
- Cairns Waterfalls - a huge list of epic waterfalls that I've visited in Cairns and the surrounding tropics.
- Cairns Islands - discover my favorite Great Barrier Reef islands near Cairns and Port Douglas.
- Cairns Tours - my roundup of the best tours you can book in Cairns and FNQ, from the Great Barrier Reef to the Daintree Rainforest.
- Cairns Packing List - tips on what to pack for a trip to Far North Queensland.
- Top Things to Do in Port Douglas - a comprehensive guide to the sleepy Far North Queensland town of Port Douglas.
- Epic 5-Day Cairns Itinerary - my suggested adventure itinerary if you only have 5 days to spend in Cairns.
- Cape Tribulation Travel Guide - discover where the rainforest meets the reef at one of my favourite places in Australia.
- Magnetic Island Travel Guide - your ultimate resource for visiting "Maggie" near Townsville.
- Best Things to do in the Atherton Tablelands - my guide to one of Far North Queensland's most underrated adventure destinations.
- Accommodation Resources: Discover where to stay in Cairns, the best hotels in Port Douglas and my Cape Tribulation accommodation guide.